The Vikings have a ton of questions facing them as they come out of their mid-season bye week preparing to beat the unbeaten Packers.
The biggest question of all, however, has nothing to do with Monday night’s game.
That, of course, is the question of whether or not the Vikings will continue to play football in Minnesota after this miserable season finally ends. The Star Tribune provided a glimmer of hope that the inevitable time in which a decision is finally made could be delayed up to a year due to a little known clause in the Metrodome lease agreement.
The clause apparently says that one year is to be added to the Metrodome lease should the facilities be damaged forcing the team to play a home game elsewhere. As we all know, the collapse of the Metrodome roof in 2010 caused the Vikings to host two games outside of their normal home.
Ted Mondale, Chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, thinks that there is no possible way the Vikings are playing elsewhere in 2012.
The Vikings see it another way and responded without giving any specific details.
“We are secure in our legal position,” said the Vikings. “The Vikings lease expires after the 2011 season. It is not in the State’s or anyone’s best interest to look for any reason to further delay a stadium solution.”
We knew this fight was going to get ugly, but it looks like this will get very ugly and possibly need to go in front of a judge.
Leslie Frazier and the Vikings organization made fans wait a week before learning the fate of cornerback Chris Cook, and even after a recent press release, the water is as murky as ever.
For now, Chris Cook will be on the Vikings roster but will not be allowed to participate in, well, anything… including Monday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
The Vikings said that Cook, “”will remain on our 53 man roster but will not participate in our football activities at this time. We have met with Chris and spoken with his agent and have agreed that currently, Chris should focus on his off the field matters.”
Those “off the field matters” are a reference to Cook’s pending felony charges of strangulation after an October 22nd domestic abuse incident.
The Vikings could only suspend Cook for up to four weeks or else they would likely face a union grievance. With his court date scheduled for November 22nd, they were essentially forced to activate him or cut him. This decision could be reversed depending on the outcome of Cook’s legal situation.
Cook has shown promise in his first year and a half as an NFL player, but his injury and legal problems really have prevented him from truly becoming a guy that can be depended on.
The big question that will face the Vikings soon is whether or not anyone within the organization can help this young man turn his life around so that he can become not only a better football player but a better human being.
When we look back to try and dissect the 2011 season to try and figure out what went wrong, sparse will be the finger pointed at Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.
Currently on pace to break the single season sack record, Allen was named October’s defensive player of the month. He is the first Vikings player to win one of the monthly awards since Darren Sharper did it in 2005.
Through eight games Allen has 34 tackles, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, an interception, and four deflected passes.
If his production can be matched during the second half of this season then I may be typing a headline naming Allen as the defensive player of the year.
One Minute: The Vikings need to come up with a specific stadium plan.
The Next Minute: We don’t like your plan.
30 Seconds Later: The Vikings need to come up with a specific stadium plan.
And so goes the Vikings efforts to secure a Minnesota-based home for the team as the distant future is suddenly not at all distant.
As I noted yesterday, I fully expect this thing to play out publically in an ugly manner and that nothing will get done, one way or another, until the game of chicken comes to an end at the very last second and somebody veers off course.
Wednesday, however, another disappointing twist surfaced when Governor Mark Dayton announced that a pre-Thanksgiving special session to address the stadium issue is not going to happen. Earlier in the day House Speaker Kurt Zellers emailed his fellow republicans to let them know he was not going to support a special session.
Zellers says that he cannot support a special session until he sees a specific stadium plan presented. No special session means that the issue might not be taken into consideration prior to next spring which is worrisome since the Metrodome lease expires on February 1st and the Vikings can announce their relocation starting on February 15th.
Following the news, the Vikings publically responded via the following statement:
“The Vikings are concerned about the turn of events surrounding a stadium solution in Minnesota. While we have been encouraged by the efforts of Governor Dayton and the four caucus leaders to seriously discuss this issue, these recent developments are very disappointing.”
“The Vikings stadium issue has been heavily debated in the public for over 10 years. With less than 90 days left on the team’s lease, the urgency to act is on us. The Vikings continue to stand ready to work with State leaders on a stadium solution that works for Minnesota and the team.”
Governor Dayton expressed disappointment that little progress has been made by State leaders and decided to cancel his scheduled meeting with Zygi Wilf on Friday.
There are tons of varying opinions out there right now about what is going on. Some are blaming Zellers, and our friends over at Daily Norseman point out that he does have a phone (651-296-5502) if any of you want to make your opinions known. Meanwhile icon Harvey Mackey, who was instrumental in getting the Metrodome built, details reasons why Minnesota should get a deal done and make sure the Vikings stay where they belong.
Not everyone, even one of my favorite Vikings bloggers, is on board with the plans put forth by the Vikings. Vikes Geek has long been cynical of this whole stadium fiasco and, as with any important issue, I always recommend reading the other side of the story. His most recent post regarding the stadium situation can be read by clicking here. In the archives of the site you will find more, similar posts.
I am glad to see some of you utilizing the “Fran’s Forums” page to discuss items I am not posting about here, hopefully that will continue to happen.
I noticed one post on there that was pondering (seriously, no pun intended) what was now in store for Joe Webb.
First things first, I wouldn’t expect him to overtake Donovan McNabb on the quarterback depth chart this season. If Christian Ponder were to suffer an injury, I think we would be back to McNabb.
Secondly, some may not have noticed, but Webb actually lined up as a slot receiver for a few plays against the Panthers with no throws going his way.
In a recent interview with the Pioneer Press, Webb indicated that there was been no talk of moving him to receiver at this point. Webb’s interview was the definition of classy as he said he is willing to play whatever role Leslie Frazier wants him to, but will not pressure Frazier to move in any particular direction.
“I don’t go to them and say, ‘Coach, I want to do this. I want to do that,’” said Webb. “I just let them tell me where they want me to be for that week and just try to do my job.”
Webb’s presence has been scarce ever since the disastrous unveiling of the “Blazer Package” in week one, but I personally think Webb’s potential lies in some sort of specialty role similar to that one.
The post below this one details the recent struggles of the Vikings secondary from an injury, legal, and performance standpoint.
Today, Leslie Frazier has indicated that the front office will at least do their due diligence in seeing if anyone can be brought in to solidify the cornerback position.
“I think we have to,” he said of looking outside the organization for help. “I think we have to just explore every avenue. We’re pretty thin there now whether it be by injury or other circumstances. We’ve got to continue to monitor what’s available and what can help us if anything out there can.”
No decision on the fate of Chris Cook has been made public and the Vikings coaches are unlikely to announce anything until at least Monday of next week, after they reconvene following the bye week.
Cedric Griffin is also falling out of favor due to his inability to consistently cover top flight receivers, as evidenced by the choice to have Asher Allen shadow Steve Smith all game long on Sunday.
The most obvious choice available on the free agent market would be 30 year old Leigh Bodden who recently cleared waivers after being abruptly cut by the Patriots. No official word has been given as to why the Patriots cut Bodden, which is worrisome, but rumor has it that he was just not willing to accept the backup role he was asked to fill in New England.
An addition like Bodden, coupled with the return of Antoine Winfield (neck), could bolster the secondary in a number of ways if Bodden could instantly be relied upon as a starter.
If this scenario were to play out and the Vikings signed Bodden, I would be curious to see if any chatter picked up involving Cedric Griffin making the move to strong safety. He may not be able to mirror the best receivers in the league, but he still has a knack for keeping plays in front of him and making sound tackles, not to mention chipping in on run support.
Former Vikings cornerback Benny Sapp is also still available after the Dolphins made an example of him by cutting him following a dreadful week one performance against the Patriots.